At this point in their career, a new album from Clutch is like pizza or sex. You don’t always know when you’re gonna get it, but you know when you do, it’s going to be awesome! Over the years, the band has always had a knack for tweaking their style a little on each album to give it a little something different. Sometimes they’re stoner rock, sometimes their straight up blues rock, most of the time a mix of both. In the case of their new album Psychic Warfare, they have taken the driving, riff-heavy groove from their last album Earth Rocker and given it a gentle twist into more of a paranoid sci-fi direction.
From the word go, the album gives off a very strange sense of urgency with opener “X-Ray Visions” and the subsequent “Firebirds.” From there, that sense of urgency never wanes until the interlude “Doom Saloon” and the masterful western-y power-blues ballad “Our Lady of Electric Light” only to bang and smash its way til the fiery finale “Son Of Virginia.”
The thing about Psychic Warfare that makes it so great, honestly, is not just its simplicity; it’s also its perfect intricacies. For instance, while the lyrics on “A Quick Death In Texas” are great, the vocal pattern at the end “Beaumont, Amarillo got a light on me/Galveston, El Paso, Nacogdoches, Abilene” pushes it from the realms of a normal Clutch song to something substantially more brilliant. While Neil Fallon is never lacking for incredibly creative turns-of-phrase and lyrical patterns, he definitely brings his A-game on Psychic Warfare on tracks like “Your Love Is Incarceration” and “Sucker For The Witch.” In addition to Fallon’s vocal heroics, the album’s other MVP is Tim Sult. From the funk riff in the chorus of “Your Love Is Incarceration” to the fist-pumpingly heavy riffs on “Noble Savage” and “Decapitation Blues,” he is also clearly at the top of his game. (Brandon Ringo)